(BLOOMINGTON) – Seven public improvement projects announced in Bloomington’s bicentennial year as a gift to its future are making significant progress this spring.
Proposed by Mayor John Hamilton and supported by a $10 million bond approved by the Bloomington Common Council in 2018, the projects will add miles of new greenways and trails, reactivate downtown alleyways, expand the city’s tree canopy, and create attractive gateways to the community.
An update on progress shared below also highlights several current and upcoming important opportunities for public engagement that will shape the projects’ final implementation.
“It’s essential that, especially in hard times like these, we can count on the investments we’ve made to improve the city’s sustainability and quality of life for all residents,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “The gift we made to commemorate our city’s bicentennial will shape the Bloomington of the future, making our city safer and more liveable, strengthen our economy, and protect our natural resources.”
Building on the success and transformative effect of the B-Line Trail, the 7-Line will provide a protected east-west bicycle lane and improved bus corridor to connect the B-Line, downtown, Indiana University campus, and eastside neighborhoods. The project will enhance and expand the conventional bike lane that already exists along parts of 7th Street by adding physical separation between bicyclists and auto traffic to improve comfort, safety, and efficiency for all road users. Extending from the B-Line Trail to Woodlawn Avenue, the first phase of the 7th Street improvements will provide a direct route between downtown and campus, designed to increase ridership and improve access to nearby destinations. The 7-Line is projected to extend east of the IU campus in subsequent phases. The project’s design consultant is Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint.
Residents will have the opportunity to learn more, share concerns, and provide input about some design elements at an informational meeting to be held Thursday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. via Facebook Live. The City’s advisory commissions will review the project and provide feedback in June (Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission, June 8; Traffic Commission, June 24; Parking Commission, June 25). Information about the 7-Line will be updated here.
Already underway in a six-month pilot phase, another Bicentennial Bond project has converted a 0.6-mile section of Old State Road 37 North to a bike/pedestrian trail in the Lower Cascades Park. The new trail has been closed to motor vehicles since March 13, extending from the IMI quarry entrance to the southernmost playground parking lot. The Lower Cascades Pilot Trail Conversion Project expands and integrates with Bloomington’s network of walking and bicycle trails; provides a safe, accessible destination for recreation and exercise; and offers bicycle commuters additional options for safer routes. Currently the city’s widest trail, the converted road also gives users a unique opportunity during the current public health crisis for physical distancing while exercising outdoors. Trail users are invited to share their experience of the Lower Cascades Pilot Trail Conversion at a survey that will help inform the decision whether and how to extend the trial. Information about parking and answers to other frequently asked questions are available here.
New East-West Trail
This new 1.3-mile trail will run west from Switchyard Park through RCA Park, to Weimer Road, culminating at Wapehani Mountain Bike Park. Creating much-needed trail connectivity from the city’s southwest side to the B-Line Trail and downtown, the trail is planned to be constructed along Duke Energy’s easement. A consultant for the project will be selected by the end of June.
Griffy Loop Trail
This spectacular planned six-mile loop trail will allow hikers to circumnavigate Griffy Lake. The trail will join the lake’s north shore to its south shore on the dam side of the lake, provide missing trail links on the south shore, and connect to a new accessible fishing pier that will be constructed on the west side of Headley Road (to be financed by a General Obligation Parks Bond). The trail will cross the Griffy Lake dam and a pedestrian walkway will be built along Headley Road to provide safe access for hikers and anglers. The project is scheduled to go out for bid in August 2020. A map of the new loop and existing trails at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is available here.
Downtown Alley Activation
The bicentennial investment will also serve to activate and enhance three blocks of alleys near the downtown square for community enjoyment and economic activity. Repaving the alleys and adding lights, artwork and other place-making features will increase the safety and appeal of the city’s downtown as a destination. Following water main replacement in the area in June, the Department of Public Works will issue a bid for the paving of alleys in the blocks north of Sixth Street between College and Walnut and between Walnut and Washington. Subsequent phases of the alley activation will then be sequenced in coordination with the City’s Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, Downtown Bloomington, Inc., and other community partners.
Preliminary designs are underway for several gateways to enhance the community at major entry points, including Arlington Bridge over the State Road 45/46 Bypass, at Twin Lakes Sports Park on Bloomfield Road, and at the northern point of Millers Showers Park (between College and Walnut at the City’s northern end). Design consultants Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) have proposed designs incorporating natural and man-made elements at each site, and some pedestrian enhancements.
Street Tree Planting
Bloomington first won recognition as a Tree City USA in 1984, and we will expand our love of trees — and pass it forward — by planting and replacing 1,400 street trees over the next four years. Comprising 10% of the existing inventory, the new trees will be purchased in time for planting by Spring 2021. The 2019 Street Tree Inventory will guide the City’s arborist for optimal tree planting locations.